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Trafficker gets 14-year sentence after meth found in papayas

ADN.com, January 8, 2014

A man who pleaded guilty to trafficking more than two kilograms of methamphetamine to Alaska, most of which was shipped inside papayas, received a sentence Tuesday of 14 years in prison.

Anchorage resident San Chiam Saechao, 26, pleaded guilty in October to possessing large quantities of meth with the intent to distribute it, according to court records. The initial charges against him, filed nearly eight months earlier in February, said Saechao had six papayas mailed to him from California that were each cut in half, put inside vacuum-sealed bags and held, altogether, more than 1,800 grams of meth.

Federal authorities intercepted the shipment, replaced the meth with fake drugs and had the package delivered the Saechao, who opened it with four children present, the court documents say. Agents arresting Saechao, found more meth in his home and soon learned he had previously dealt the powerful stimulant for months, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by prosecutors in the case. Further investigation revealed Saechao had earlier possessed more than 230 grams of meth, the court documents said.

In handing down the 14-year sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason said Saechao brought a drug to Anchorage "that is eating away at the soul of our community," according to a statement Wednesday from the U.S. Attorney's Office.